Tobacco-free zone: that’s the message Belmont is delivering to campus in fall 2011.
Belmont’s reason for this policy change is that it “is dedicated to the health and well-being of all of our students, faculty, and staff.” They add that more than 260 other college campuses in the U.S. are currently smoke-free or tobacco-free, including Tennessee Tech University and East Tennessee State University.
When the policy is enacted for the fall semester, any type of use of tobacco will be banned within the university property, including buildings, parking places, walkways and vehicles parked on Belmont property. This policy will apply to all students, faculty, staff, contractors, vendors, and all other university visitors.
For many students, this policy will be a great improvement to Belmont’s campus.
“I think that it’s a great idea because I hate having to walk past people smoking, especially when they’re right in front of doors,” Lauren Carl said, a non-smoker.
Some other students also believe it will help people with health issues, like people who are asthmatic, and others with allergies.
But many others say this policy is a violation of their rights.
“They think that they can take all of our rights just because we go to a private school,” said Matt Wolf, a smoker.
Wolf, like other tobacco users, said that it is really annoying to have to walk off of campus just to have a smoke.
“I understand that they want to promote a healthy environment,” Hilary Fischer said, a smoker, but added that to ban smoking from campus takes it too far.
“If they’re allowed to do this then what can’t they take away from us?” Wolf added.
Other students remarked that the policy might bring serious consequences.
“You’re forcing students who do smoke to, maybe, go into neighborhoods that aren’t as safe in order to smoke,” Daniel Schmidt, a non-smoking senior.
Many students believe that the more restrictive policy came from the fact that though Belmont has designated smoking areas, current smoking rules are not being enforced to limit smoking areas, and some tobacco users do not follow the rules.
Others remarked on the apparent lack of control of current smoking policies.
“They smoke everywhere, you know?” Savannah White said, a non-smoker.
Fischer suggested that enforcement of current policy should come first.
But as the saying goes, where there’s a will, there’s a way.
“Students will find a way to smoke, whether they allow tobacco or not,” Daniel Roosevelt said, a non-smoker.
So while the policy was meant to be restrictive to smokers all around campus, authorities believe that there are steps smokers can take for those who are willing.
“Of course, the university encourages smokers to take advantage of smoking cessation resources,” university counsel Jason Rogers said.
And if someone is found to be using tobacco, there also will be a consequence.
The offices of Campus Security and Residence Life will give violators monetary fines, which may escalate to the point of probation and other disciplinary action.
This policy may not stop the majority of people from smoking, and the “No tobacco” policy faces many obstacles.
“I know a lot of people are fighting it or they’re trying to get a petition started against it,” Fischer said.
Further information on the Belmont University Tobacco-free Campus Policy can be found on the website at www.belmont.edu/tobaccofree/.